The Spijkse Overlaat
I09
Spijk
1800

The Spijkse Overlaat

The Spijkse Overlaat
The Spijkse Overlaat
The Spijkse Overlaat
The Spijkse Overlaat
The Spijkse Overlaat
The Spijkse Overlaat
The Spijkse Overlaat
The Spijkse Overlaat

In river regions like the Liemers, water management is a matter of life and death. For centuries people have worked to keep the water level under control and avoid floods. The Spijkse Overlaat has been in place since the 18th century and was intended to drain excess water from the Rhine.

Flood risk
…a bubbling waterfall which grumbled as it forged a path down the bed of the Old Rhine.” That’s what it sounded like in the winter of 1941, when the Spijkse Overlaat flooded the Rijnstrangen polder yet again. An overlaat, or spillway, is an artificially lowered place on a dike which, in the event of high water, allows the river to flow into an emergency overflow area. This reduces the pressure on the dikes and can prevent flooding or the dike bursting. The Netherlands had a large number of spillways, particularly in the east where there was the greatest danger of flooding.

Stopgap
A spillway was only ever used as a stopgap, because the residents of emergency overflow areas were naturally not keen to get wet feet and flooded houses. For that reason, loud protests often resulted when the authorities deemed an area to be an emergency overflow zone. Naturally, the locals were very pleased when the Spijkse Overlaat was taken out of operation in 1956. A last remnant of the protective wall of the Spijkse Overlaat can still be seen in the garden of Villa Copera on the Spijksedijk in Tolkamer. The Oude Rijn pumping station in Pannerden took over the spillway’s job. Now the Kandia pumping station in Groessen ensures that water levels in the Rijnstrangen polder remain low and stable. The Driedorpen polder between Aerdt and Pannerden is the only concrete remnant of the old spillway days.

Room for the River
Things have changed, and we now look for more innovative ways to control the water. The emphasis is shifting from improving the dikes to widening rivers. The Room for the River project began in Gelderland in 2007, and in some cases, has resulted in drastic measures. Emergency overflow zones have been designated once more, very much against the wishes of the population. There were plans to turn the Rijnstrangen polder into an emergency overflow area again, but the residents’ protests may have helped. The Rijnstrangen polder will be spared for now.

The Spijkse Overlaat
The Spijkse Overlaat
The Spijkse Overlaat
The Spijkse Overlaat
The Spijkse Overlaat
The Spijkse Overlaat
The Spijkse Overlaat
The Spijkse Overlaat
I9_De Spijkse Overlaat - NL
4:35